The Chinese evergreen, or Aglaonema, is an attractive houseplant enjoyed by both novice gardeners and experienced growers. Under the right growing conditions, this tropical plant is super easy to grow and maintain. It is also hardy, meaning it can easily tolerate poor lighting conditions, drought, and dry air.
But, if your Chinese evergreen is drooping, it means the plant has suffered some form of neglect for an extended period. Although watering issues are the most common cause, there are also numerous other reasons your plant may look droopy. If you want to return it to its normal, healthy state, then this guide is for you.
Why is my Chinese evergreen drooping? Common causes
Seeing your Chinese evergreen drooping can be worrying, but understanding the reason behind this droopy appearance should help you correct your care regimen and bring your favorite plant back to life.
Here are some of the common causes of the plant’s droopy leaves:
1. Inappropriate watering
Overwatering is as harmful to your Chinese evergreen as not giving it enough water.
When you water your plant excessively, the soil becomes waterlogged, causing the leaves to yellow. Standing water can also cause the plant’s roots to rot, cutting the supply of air and nutrients to the plant. If the condition continues, your Chinese evergreen will eventually turn brown, droop, and die.
Underwatering, on the other hand, causes wilting, leaf yellowing or browning, and drooping. This is because the lack of soil moisture not only causes dehydration, but inhibits nutrient uptake. Just like overwatering, underwatering can eventually cause your plant to die.
Knowing all that, it is important to water your plant consciously. The trick is to ensure that the soil is moist enough, without ever being too dry or too wet. You can do this by checking the condition of the topsoil to determine whether your plant needs a drink. Insert your finger about an inch deep into the potting mix – if it feels dry, it means your plant needs water. If the soil feels damp, it is best to withhold watering until that top layer dries out. If you are not comfortable using your finger to check the soil, you can purchase an XLUX soil moisture meter to do the job for you.
2. Too much fertilizer
While fertilizers can boost your plant’s health, applying them to excess can have detrimental effects, both on the plant and the soil. One common mistake made by many novice gardeners is applying too much fertilizer in the belief that it will make the plant grow more. However, this is hardly the case.
Overfertilization can cause a build-up of salts in the soil, leading to osmotic imbalances and plant dehydration. Over time, the plant will start to suffer from poor root structure, defoliation, browning or yellowing leaves, and drooping.
Hence, it is highly recommended that you follow the dosage instructions indicated on the fertilizer packaging. Also make sure to choose a high-quality fertilizer formulated for houseplants. If you are planting your Chinese evergreen indoors, you can apply a 20-20-20 liquid fertilizer every two to three weeks during spring and summer. Avoid fertilizing during the winter season.
3. Dry soil
Chinese evergreens thrive in moist soil. Neglecting your plant for extended periods can lead to extreme soil dryness and cause your plant to wilt or droop. To revive it and save it from death, submerge the plant’s root in water until they are saturated. Going forward, make sure to follow a proper watering schedule to keep your plant hydrated.
4. Sudden changes in temperature
Chinese evergreens need about 64 degrees Fahrenheit for optimum growth; sudden changes in temperature can be problematic for these plants, causing their leaves to go limp and droopy.
If exposed to sudden heat, the leaves can dry out too quickly. Cold temperatures, on the other hand, can weaken the plant’s cell walls and disrupt the uptake of nutrients and fluids. Chinese evergreens are hardy and will not necessarily perish right away if the temperature drops, but the stress can cause them to droop. The solution is to keep your houseplant in an environment with enough warmth and a constant temperature.
5. Low humidity
Low levels of humidity can sometimes result in your Chinese evergreen drooping. The dry air in the environment can also eventually stunt the growth of your plant. Chinese evergreens are unlikely to succumb to this stressor, but it is important to place your languishing plant in an environment with higher humidity to bring it back to life.
6. Exposure to direct intense sunlight
The intense light of the sun can be harmful to most houseplants, including the Chinese evergreen. Although this hardy plant thrives in tropical areas, too much exposure to direct sunlight can scorch its leaves and cause a droopy appearance. The sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays can also cause its vibrant leaves to lose their color, so you might start noticing some bleached spots.
The solution is simple – move your houseplant to a spot with partial sunlight, such as near a window. If you are growing your Chinese evergreens outdoors, move it to a shadier spot.
7. Plant diseases
Although the Chinese evergreen is resistant to common houseplant diseases, a lack of proper care can still make it vulnerable to certain diseases. For example, overwatering can attract fungal and bacterial infections, causing root rot and drooping.
Some of the most serious Chinese evergreen diseases are:
- Myrothecium and Colletotrichum, characterized by the appearance of spots and holes on the leaves during propagation.
- Curvularia, a disease that causes the plant to stretch downwards.
- Pythium, a root problem caused by overwatering.
- Fusarium stem rot, a fungal disease that causes mushy rot, stem discoloration, and wilting.
8. Pest infestation
Drooping in Chinese evergreens often occurs when certain pests have damaged the plant’s leaves and root system. You might find these tiny creatures populating the undersides of the plant’s leaves.
Insects like aphids and mites suck out the plant’s nutrients and leave poisonous by-products on the leaves. Soggy or wet soil can invite pests like mealybugs, scales, and whiteflies to take up residence on your plant, while excessive soil dryness can attract spider mites to take over.
9. Root-bound state
Keeping your Chinese evergreen in a root-bound state can lead to droopy leaves. Although many people believe this method encourages the plant to bloom, this might not always be the case. Being rootbound causes problems in nutrient uptake as the plant’s roots become dense or tangled due to the lack of sufficient space to grow.
If you do want to keep the plant rootbound to make it bloom, know that you only need it to be slightly root-bound. If the roots look too constricted or tangled, you might need to prune the unhealthy roots or upsize the pot.
10. Wrong potting mix
Just like most houseplants, Chinese evergreens need a well-draining soil mix to grow well. If you prefer not to use a standard potting mix, you can keep your plant in a container of water with added charcoal, or in plain water, and make sure to feed it every month to keep it healthy.
11. Repotting shock
Repotting can be a stressful process for your plant as it interferes with the root system and temporarily inhibits water and nutrient uptake. But do not worry – once your plant adjusts to its new pot, the drooping of the leaves should be resolved. However, you should limit the frequency of repotting to avoid problems – every three to four years should suffice.
12. Acclimatizing to a new environment
Chinese evergreens need time to adjust to a new environment, just like any other plant or animal. So, if you have recently brought home one of these hardy plants from a shop, it is pretty normal to notice its leaves drooping or limp. In this case, give your plant enough time to adjust to its new home. Avoid moving it frequently from one location to another to prevent stress. With patience and great care, your plant should revert to its normal, healthy state.
How do I fix drooping in my Chinese evergreen?
Chinese evergreens are quite hard and easy to care for, but they are not invincible! If you are frustrated to see your plant’s drooping leaves, you need to correct your plant care routine to get your beautiful Chinese evergreen back to life. Here are some tips you can follow:
- Avoid exposing your plant to direct sunlight as this can burn the leaves. Instead, place it somewhere with access to partial sunlight.
- Water your plant only if the top layer of soil starts to dry out.
- Make sure to water your plant just enough to keep the soil moist but not soggy, to prevent root rot.
- Limit watering your Chinese evergreen during winter, but keep it well-hydrated during its growing seasons in the spring and summer.
- It is recommended to wipe dust from the leaves with a wet cloth regularly to improve photosynthesis.
- Place your plant in an environment with good airflow.
- If your Chinese evergreen is infested with pests, spray the leaves and stems with neem oil. This natural pesticide effectively eradicates almost any type of bug without harming your plants.
- Do not expose your Chinese evergreen to cold or hot drafts.
- To keep your plant healthy and thriving, it is recommended to repot it every three to four years, or when it gets rootbound.
- Make sure to protect your plants from frost during the cold seasons – most houseplants do not do well when exposed to extremely low temperatures.
- Do not over-fertilize your plants. Use a diluted dose with the right balance of nutrients to give your Chinese evergreen a boost, and never fertilize during winter.
- Use a humidifier to maintain the humidity level in the environment at 50 percent or higher. Chinese evergreens love moisture and thrive in humid areas.
Wrapping it up
Chinese evergreen plants are some of the most popular decorative plants in offices and homes, thanks to their vibrant and colorful foliage. These plants are also hardy and disease-resistant, making them a great choice for both beginners and advanced gardeners.
Although Chinese evergreens are highly tolerant and undemanding, they also need proper growing conditions to thrive. If you notice your plant drooping, it is a clear sign that it is not receiving the right care. Thankfully, if you can spot the problem early and correct your care routine, your plant should bounce back to health in no time.
Image: istockphoto.com / Firn